Each year, our country celebrates Black History Month, an observance recognizing the people and events that exemplify African-American achievement throughout U.S. history. From people including elected officials, educators and activists, to places such as museums and parks, Jacksonville is rich with African-American history.
One example is Dr. Arnett Girardeau, a local dentist and legislator who made history as the only African-American to act as pro tempore, second in command, of the Florida Senate to date. Before becoming a state senator, Dr. Girardeau served in the Florida House from 1976 to 1982. He was inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2017.
Dr. Wendell P. Holmes, Jr. made history as the first African-American in Duval County and Florida to be elected School Board Chairman. Born in 1922, Dr. Holmes was a community and equal education rights activist who was elected to the Duval County School Board in 1969. In addition to being an advocate for quality education for all, he was an entrepreneur and passionate civil rights activist.
Sallye B. Mathis is one of the first two African-American females elected to the Jacksonville City Council. Born in Jacksonville in 1912, the former educator was elected to the City Council in 1967, the year consolidation was passed. It would take effect the following year in 1968. A local Duval County elementary school was named in her honor.
As we celebrate the lives and contributions of community leaders such as Dr. Girardeau, Dr. Holmes, Ms. Mathis and countless others this month, the City of Jacksonville is encouraging citizens to continue lifting their legacy through community involvement and volunteerism throughout the year and beyond.
For a list of service opportunities, citizens should visit liftingthelegacy.com.